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Chinese Hospitals ‘Overwhelmed With Sick Children’

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Hospitals in China are reportedly ‘Overwhelmed With Sick Children’ after a massive surge in respiratory illnesses

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday, November 23, that Chinese health officials had not found any uncommon or novel infections and had given the needed information on a rise in respiratory ailments and reported child pneumonia clusters.

Following reports from organisations like the Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases (ProMED) of clusters of children in north China going untreated with pneumonia, the WHO had requested additional information from China on Wednesday. China replied to the WHO within 24 hours as required by law. Through the International Health Regulations process, the WHO had requested test data, as well as epidemiologic and clinical information.

According to the data, the increase may be related to the removal of COVID-19 restrictions and the spread of recognised infections such as the common bacterial infection mycoplasma pneumoniae (pictured below). Since mid-October, the WHO said northern China had reported an increase in influenza-like illness compared with the same period in the previous three years.

Lung infection caused by bacteria Mycoplasma pneumoniae, 3D illustration. Bacterial pneumonia medical concept

It said China had systems in place to capture information on trends in illness incidence and to report that data to platforms such as the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System. In recent days, media in cities such as Xian in the northwest have posted videos of hospitals crowded with parents and children awaiting checks.

Some social media users have posted photos of children doing homework while receiving intravenous drips in hospital.

The WHO said that while it was seeking additional information, it recommended that people in China follow measures to reduce the risk of respiratory illness. Measures included vaccination, keeping distance from sick people, staying at home when ill, getting tested and medical care as needed, wearing masks as appropriate, ensuring good ventilation, and regular hand-washing, it said.

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